Complications during the repair to the propulsion system of West Coast ferry operator CalMac’s MV Clansman mean the vessel will now be out of service for longer than first anticipated. Parts of the Clansman’s propulsion system have had to be sent to Denmark for specialist repair.
To minimise any disruption CalMac agreed to extend the MV Hebrides’ operating licence, which was due to enter dry dock, with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for a further three weeks.
CalMac’s Managing Director, Robbie Drummond said:
“We are facing a highly regrettable situation that we need to manage as best we can with the vessels we have. Our priority is to continue to provide lifeline service to island communities.
“The overrun of our annual vessel dry dock schedule into the summer season is regrettable and we realise that this set of circumstance is going to impact adversely on some communities which we apologise for. However, under the circumstances, the timetable arrangements we have now put in place for the period of disruption are the best options we have available.” CalMac will operate an amended timetable until the return of all major vessels expected by May 31. Major changes are:
Ardrossan-Brodick: MV Caledonian Isles delivering single vessel timetable from April 26 supplemented by MV Isle of Arran delivering shared timetable between Arran and Islay
Ardrossan-Campbeltown: start of summer service postponed
Islay services: MV Finlaggan delivering single vessel timetable from April 26 supplemented by MV Isle of Arran delivering shared timetable between Islay and Arran
Mallaig-Armadale: MV Loch Fyne until 24 April then MV Loch Fyne and MV Loch Bhrusda
Mallaig - Lochboisdale: this sailing will be cancelled with the MV Hebridean Isles providing a service from Lochboisdale to Oban
“We believe these arrangements will cause the least disruption possible. Through vessel redeployment and timetable amendments we are confident that we can satisfy all demand for services including the extra traffic that will be generated by the Islay Whisky Festival and the upcoming World War I commemorations. Although we realise that communities such as Mallaig, Campbeltown and Armadale will be disadvantaged for a brief period, we need to deploy resources where they are needed most,” added Mr Drummond.
“With one major vessel down, it is always a difficult balancing exercise and we know there will be communities who believe they are taking more than their fair share of upheaval. However, this is the best short-term solution we have within our current operating limits.”
Kenneth Gibson added:
“This is hugely disappointing. There is a lack of flexibility in the system, with dry-docking in Birkenhead and no ‘spare’ vessel capacity. Transport Scotland tried last year unsuccessfully to secure vessels from Denmark and Norway. However, the only long-term answer is to commission the building of more vessels and I’ll press the Scottish Government on that issue. The last vessels to be built, MV Catriona and the Glen Sannox were for Arran. Nevertheless, a larger fleet is now required, if we are to avoid this situation in future.”
CalMac’s customer care team is now working to ensure anyone already booked to travel are aware of the new timetable arrangements. Passengers are urged to check the website to confirm amended timetables before travelling at calmac.co.uk.